The annual Clermont 20/20 salute to leaders banquet and awards ceremony will be held March 8, and final selections have been made as to who is being recognized for their work in the county this year.
Cindy Jenkins, director of Clermont 20/20, said that a county resident is picked every year to represent the townships, the City of Milford, and a number of other categories for their work in the community.
“Each year, we reach out to all of the townships and the city of Milford,” said Jenkins. “They know more than anyone who in their community is really doing good things. We also have nine county awards, and parks and recreation is one of those. The nomination process begins in November, and we pull together a review committee that consists of at least one person from areas like education, health, human services, civics, parks and recreation and that way, we have some inside knowledge too.”
This year, Ron Shouse will be accepting the award for the parks and recreation category. Shouse is an employee of the Clermont County department of parks and recreation and is well-known for his efforts in promoting both the efforts of that department and other historic efforts, such as the Grassy Run Historical Arts Committee.
Jenkins said that it was not Shouse's employment in parks and recreation that earned him the honor, but his work going above and beyond that marked him for the award.
"That's sort of a coincidence," said Jenkins. "We're usually cautious about awarding someone if the work they are doing is part of their job. For Ron, it goes far beyond what would be expected of him as an employee. This is more of a personal passion for him. That was a major factor. Anyone can be nominated, but it's not totally unusual that anyone who works in that field can be nominated. We just look at it very carefully."
As for Shouse, he said he was surprised to be so named.
"I'm quite surprised, humbled I guess," said Shouse. "What can you say? I was shocked, because I don't do the things I do for awards. I do it because I enjoy doing those things. It's making someone else's life better. Awards are wonderful, and I appreciate it, but I do this every day."
The awards banquet became a tradition after its first occurrence in 1994. Jenkins said that a lot of effort is put into finding the right people to honor each year. Nominations are made by the public, and Jenkins said that every effort is made to make sure the person chosen is the right person for the honor.
"This is all about the person being nominated," said Jenkins. "A lot of time goes into this, to select that one person who emerges as a real leader. He's very heavily involved, but the scope of his involvement and work goes beyond his job. These aren't things required in his job description. These are things he has a true passion for and gives of himself. That put him over the top."
Shouse follows the director of the Clermont County department of parks and recreation in receiving the award.
"It's an honor, because I follow up the park district director, Chris Clingman," said Shouse. "I feel special because he got it last year for the things he's done for the parks and county residents. It's definitely a humbling experience. I'm grateful that people do see what we do to make people's life a little better."
The awards roughly follow an outline created by Clermont 20/20 when it was formed to identify key areas of Clermont County life.
"When Clermont 20/20 was started, there were certain critical issue areas identified in this county," said Jenkins. "These were areas needed for this to be healthy, well-rounded community. Those areas were economic development, health and human services, safety and justice, parks and recreation, the civic community and education as well as government and infrastructure. Those are the elements that drove the way those county awards were framed. If these are critical issues here, the people who have a critical impact on them are the unsung heroes. They will have the impact on life in Clermont County."
To learn more or to register for a seat at the banquet, go online at www.clermont2020.org.